Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

City Traffic in the Rain from The Pipe Dream Daily
Wishing a


 to you all, and may your dreams come true in 2014!

(I've chosen a rainy picture this year as we do seem to be having a great deal of rain right now in London.)

Monday, 16 December 2013

Messing with Amazon's head, or Jeff Bezos thinks I own a dog

The dog I don't have -
image from K9 Protection Dogs
Amazon has the most sophisticated algorithms in the world for knowing what its customers want in order to offer it to them. It's one of the secrets of their success.

I know I've misled Amazon about my reading tastes, since I so often click on the books in the signatures of fellow writers out of curiosity, to see how they are doing or to read their samples. But this week I realized, when viewing the Lightning Deals Amazon emailed me, that I've confused them about my entire lifestyle as well. I cycle, garden in a small way on my balcony, feed birds and have a weakness for tiny bright torches; they've got that right, even if they haven't twigged I wouldn't take a barbecue as a gift.

But now Jeff Bezos thinks I own a dog. He's currently offering me an assortment of dog beds, collars and eating bowls. And I know why. It's because there's a guard dog in Wolf by the Ears, and I researched the toy he'd be playing with. (A Kong, since you ask, this one.) Amazon's useful for finding items your characters own or buy, because its selection is so huge. A pity it doesn't sell property.

Of course, as a writer I'm even more misleading on Google. Recently I've exhibited an unhealthy interest in firearms, signs of surveillance, tracking by mobile phone, the FSB, undetectable poisons, post-mortems, fingerprints, toxicology, how long a corpse takes to float and how to hack a Sim card. Perhaps in my next book I'll include a villain who writes a novel as cover for the research necessary for his evil deeds...

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

New novel out ~ Wolf by the Ears

Today I hit Amazon's Publish button on Wolf by the Ears, my latest novel - an exciting and anxious moment. I do hope readers will like it. This is the synopsis (and you don't want to know how long it took to write, or how many people helped me with it):

When Tyger Rebel Thomson starts working for a Russian oligarch, she could be on her way to the life of her dreams – assuming, that is, she lives long enough to get there.

Grisha Markovic is a man with enemies. He’s loathed by the Kremlin, under observation by MI6, involved in acrimonious litigation over a Siberian gold mine, and rumoured to possess an explosive dossier containing details of a massive Russian tax fraud.

Grisha is impressed with Tyger’s intelligence; he takes a fatherly interest in her and makes her his personal assistant. This could be the break she has been hoping for. But after a mysterious driver tries to run her down, she begins to suspect that the death of his last PA may not have been an accident

I got the idea for the story when reading about the death of Boris Berezovsky. Interested, I started researching oligarchs, and realized just how many dubious deaths there had been in this country, all with Russian connections. We know assassins killed Litvinenko and attempted to kill German Gorbuntsov, who survived a hail of bullets on the doorstep of his London flat. What about Alexander Perepilichnyy, Badri Patarkatsishvili and Stephen Curtis? Those deaths were recorded as having 'no suspicious circumstances'. Like Litvinenko and Berezovsky, these men were enemies of the Kremlin, and believed themselves under threat.

You can view Wolf's sample on Amazon and decide whether to lay out £1.99/$2.99 in order to read on.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Chasing the last typo, considering commas, committing to the move

The paperback cover, still a work in progress
My latest novel is nearly good to go. A couple of beta readers told me it was comma-light, and they were right, so I've been judiciously adding commas.

Q pointed out that my disclaimer at the start of the book, While the places in this book are a mixture of real and imagined, the characters and events are fictitious, was not strictly accurate, since I mention Vladimir Putin and other real people. So I have made that line even shorter: This is a work of fiction. (I am in favour of keeping a book's front matter as brief as possible. The verbose disclaimers, threats towards pirates, and personal avowals that some authors go in for amaze me.)

I've formatted the paperback, and printed it out to check the way it looks on the page, which gives me the opportunity to have a final read-through. I've started work on the paperback cover. I have still to format the ebook.

At some stage, one has to admit the book is as good as one is going to get it. In Churchill's words, it's almost time to "kill the monster and fling him to the public" - which is both frightening and exciting.